Linda Mona , Psychologist
30 Oct 2022 | ~2:05 Engagement Time
Many people who grow up with disabilities learn from an early age that people with disabilities are not “sexy.” Fashion models and film stars rarely, if ever, have disabilities. We see few people with disabilities in everyday life, which reinforces the idea that having a disability is not a “normal” experience.
Acquiring a disability or chronic illness later in life is a completely different experience. People may have viewed themselves all of their lives as sexy and desirable, yet when their body changes, this image of themselves may change, too.
Having a disability changes not only the way people interact with the world, but also how they view themselves.
While we have begun to see more people with disabilities in the media, we still have far to go. The majority of media portrays disabled people as unattractive, non-sexual, broken people. With these stereotypes continuing to be fed to society, it is not surprising that people with and without disabilities have misperceptions about sexuality and disability.
So, how do people with a disability or chronic illnesses like MS begin to know themselves for who they are?
Many people with both long-standing and recently acquired disabilities have found success with the following.
By talking with other people with disabilities and learning about the ways in which they have developed sexual relationships with themselves and others, as well as how they have engaged in sexual activity, you can save yourself a lot of time. Who knows? Other people may have found the solution you’re looking for.
If you don’t know many disabled people, check out the The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability and read about what others in this community have to say about their sexual experiences.
It may be that you don’t feel sexy because of your disability, and then, when someone tells you that you’re sexy, you don’t believe them; it sounds like a foreign language. However, you need to take the opportunity to see yourself through the eyes of others.
Think of yourself as a sexual person, and begin to challenge past ideas about feeling non-sexual.
Many people have said that because their disability has not “allowed” them to feel sexy, they really don’t remember how to recognize the feeling. Some disabled people have experienced success with regaining a positive self-image of themselves as sexual beings by reading erotic books, playing with sex toys, watching erotic films and paying attention to what makes them feel good. Even though most books and films do not include people with disabilities, they can give us ideas about feeling sexy and what may turn us on.
Discovering yourself and what feels right to you is a life-long process, one that does not have a final conclusion. Keep an open mind while learning about yourself and begin your journey to knowing the sexual person that you are!
Reprinted with permission by the author from article published on HealthyPlace.com.